The Beach ate my Insulin

Just got home last night from spending a wonderful long weekend at the beach with my daughter, husband, and family friends who also have kids. Anyone who knows me knows that I am more of a mountain girl – I much prefer hiking and exploring the scenic views in the mountains and having a picnic by a babbling brook over baking myself in the heat of summer and cleaning sand out of every orifice of my body. I mean, the beach has it’s scenic views, and the crashing of the waves can be very relaxing….it’s just, I don’t ever feel like it’s worth all the mess and cleanup, and then there is also the planning and packing and preparing just to be able to moderately enjoy a day on the beach. (See the Swimming with Diabetes post for some similar highlights of what has to be done just for a “quick” trip to the beach or any body of water.)

I love all the firsts with my little girl

Touching the ocean for the first time

But I have to say, it was truly a joy to see my daughter experience the ocean and the beach for the first time, and I’m so glad I sucked it up and made the effort to go. She LOVES playing in the sandbox, and loves the pool, so we knew the beach would be a hit. And it was. So much so that, on the way home yesterday when she woke up from her nap, we told her we were almost home. She happily exclaimed, “Beach house!” and we were like, “no, back to our house at home” and she immediately burst into tears.  Trust me, sweetie, I wish we could vacation all the time, too!

And hope it never becomes needed.

Good Mommy, wearing my medic-alert bracelet!
Just in case.

Anyway, back to how the beach ate my insulin…we got there on Friday, and made the short walk to the actual beach front  (just a few hundred feet from the house we stayed in) to check it out. I had planned ahead and changed out my pump infusion set that morning so I had a fresh 300 units to get me through the majority of the weekend. Friday was a great blood sugar day and night – the walk to the beach, plus a sensible dinner and a glass or two of red wine were easy pickings to account for – my sugars were generally steady, and between 80-130. The only negative diabetes thing was that the shorts I wore to explore the beach got a little wet and were rubbing on my Dexcom sensor *just so* that it ripped it off. Replaced the sensor – a little bitter because I probably had another good week and a half left on it.

Saturday morning, we carted a truckload of supplies – sand toys, life jackets, boogie boards, towels, chairs, a tent, and a cooler filled with snacks –  and spent several hours enjoying the sand and the ocean. I played it safe, and spent the majority of the time in the shade of the tent. It really wasn’t even very hot, in the grand scheme of the beach. Maybe in the 80s? So, I wore my pump and CGM while I was watching everyone, and if I went into the water to play, I would put my pump in a Ziploc bag and leave it inside the cooler (not directly on any ice) and make sure the CGM receiver was in a safe non-watery place. (My CGM sensor itself was now applied with Skin-Tac and copious amounts of Opsite Flexifix tape, so I was pretty sure the ocean wouldn’t whisk it off my leg.) It probably took me til Sunday morning to realize something was amiss with my sugars, and to blame it on the pump/potential skunky insulin. So, I implemented a cautious change out, wasting many units of insulin. Grrrr.

See the green tent - my shaded haven

See the green tent – my shaded haven

Sunday was an OK day blood sugar-wise….we visited the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores, so we were inside during the main heat of the day. But we also went on a short nature hike outside while there, and that got a smidge hot. We also went to the beach again that afternoon. Ironically, my sugars started climbing again that afternoon, and were hanging out in the 180s and 190s no matter what I did (drank tons of water, took more insulin through the pump, used a different bottle to give a shot of insulin, ate something, etc.)

Wheeee, the beach! Yes, I'm wearing a t-shirt. Not fashionable, but I also didn't get sunburned, so there.

Wheeee, the beach! Yes, I’m wearing a t-shirt over my suit. Not fashionable, but I also didn’t get sunburned, so there.

By the time we headed home Monday, I was really tired of high sugars making me feel like crap. We stopped and played a round of miniature golf on the way home (and I putt-putted the best score of my life – 34!!) and that got to be hot – possibly as hot as our days on the beach. More insulin skunkiness caused? I had tons of insulin still left in the cartridge, but got home and immediately changed it all out with a new bottle of insulin and a new infusion site yet again. Finally, my sugars leveled out and started making sense again. I was just so frustrated that I wasted at least a couple hundred units of insulin over the weekend because my insulin got too hot while it was sitting on my body (yes, I wear it in my bra 99% of the time.) I also threw out the bottle that was in my pocketbook, since I had used it to supplement with shots when my sugar was so high, and even the shots didn’t seem to make a dent. Wondering if that insulin was exposed to too much heat at some point in our travels?

Grrrr, I hate wasting insulin. Either this bottle has had it, the insulin in my set has had it, or both.

Grrrr, I hate wasting insulin. Either this bottle has had it, the insulin in my set has had it, or both.

Sweetly Voiced recently wrote about the checklist of items we go through when trying to figure out why our blood sugars may be high (and I wondered about all these things several times over this past weekend) and brought up a good point – why isn’t there a test strip or way we could check our insulin in order to figure out it’s gone bad? I hate tossing an entire bottle, or 200 units left in my infusion set, if it could possibly be something else. In this weekend’s instance, I’m just going to say the beach ate my insulin. You think my insurance company would replace a bottle of insulin for me for free if I tell them that? Ha.

7 thoughts on “The Beach ate my Insulin

  1. You sorta kinda reminded me of one of my pet peeves. My insurance (State Inclusive) insists on charging me $60 for each bottle of insulin, because they claim it is a BRAND name. Well, hello – there is no Generic insulin, so I have to use a brand name. This policy seems pretty wacky to me. So yes, I hate wasting insulin too.

  2. Some sort of test to see if insulin had gone bad would be wonderful. When I suspect it’s bad, sometimes I move on to the next vial, then the possibly-bad insulin gets even older until it’s really-bad. It’s a no-win situation.

  3. Oh man, that stinks (get it, skunky insulin…??).

  4. I had to giggle at your tee shirt comment about not getting sunburn. When we went to Costa Rica last year, I had to buy one of those long sleeve surf shirts to wear in the water after like the third day because I was so burnt. We went on an excursion and I was wearing the long sleeve shirt and long pants. In Costa Rica lol But like you said, I was protected from the sun! 😉

  5. Ah I would love a test to see if insulin has gone bad. I love this post mainly because I think it’s a perfect example of how much thought is put into having diabetes daily…every non D person should read this because while we “go on vacation” we are never really on vacation” Awesome job on that putt putt score though!

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